SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Community members are pushing for action to take down the old Pillsbury Mills Plant.
Chris Richmond, with the group Move Pillsbury Forward, says the Springfield plant was built in 1929.
"When this was operating in full capacity, during Pillsbury's heyday in 1950, there were 1,500 employees working here on a daily basis," Richmond says.
Now, decades later, the 18 acre facility sits empty.
"The factory was sold in 1991 by Pillsbury. It operated for another ten years, and then was mothballed," Richmond says. "What we've seen over a 20 year period, is the factory itself is deteriorating and unfortunately, the neighborhood and community around the facility is deteriorating as well."
The community group, Moving Pillsbury Forward, is taking action to get the plant torn down.
"We're a group of community volunteers, put together a few months ago, as somewhat of a think tank, to problem solve this big abandoned factory," Richmond says.
Members of Move Pillsbury Forward say the plant poses both health and safety hazards to local residents.
"We know kids come in and trespass a lot," Richmond says. "We know there's a bit of a homeless problem here. "There's a number of holes in the fence."
John Keller has lived in the neighborhood surrounding Pillsbury Mills for nearly all his life. He says the building that once helped the community thrive, now has the opposite effect.
"It looks like a bomb site," Keller says. "Property values went down to about a third of what they're supposed to be. Would you want to live across the street from this?"
Members of Move Pillsbury Forward say they are looking for a rebirth on the property, and they are asking the city for help but, the city does not currently own the property.
"There's an U.S. EPA lean on the property, for nearly 2 million dollars," Richmond says. "The current owners have no way of paying that lean."
The group wants the city to take over ownership of the factory but the city tells WAND, there are no plans to do so because of the cost and liability.
"The community has a chance to end the negative spiral this factory has caused and provide an opportunity for this community to bounce back up and become very productive," Richmond says.